The 55th Annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention is scheduled to take place in Houston from August 31 to September 3 and, as in years past, its appealing moderate theme is contradicted by its choice of extremist speakers.
ISNA was identified as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Justice Department during the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a Brotherhood front that was shut down for financing Hamas. ISNA was labeled as an “unindicted co-conspirator” during that trial, partially because the Holy Land Foundation “operated from within ISNA.”
ISNA says it condemns all terrorism, including acts committed by Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and has a stated mission “to foster…interfaith relations.” Yet, far from turning over a new leaf, ISNA is still booking extremist speakers with a history of promoting anti-Semitism and using inflammatory rhetoric.
Here are just a few examples of disturbing viewpoints expressed by some of the speakers:
Hatem Bazian is the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine and founder of Students for Justice in Palestine.
He is also a professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Department of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies and a founder and board member of Zaytuna College.
Bazian was recorded in 2004 praising the “intifada in Iraq,” which targeted U.S. soldiers, and the “intifada in Palestine” and urging Muslim-Americans to begin an “intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” At least five AMP officials previously served with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s pro-Hamas Palestine Committee.
Bazian taught students that the Islamists’ opponents and critics of Islam generally are puppets of a war-seeking, Zionist conspiracy to victimize Muslims that has succeeded in seizing the United States’ major institutions. This conspiracy theory—essentially a modernized version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—is used to silence adversaries through demonization.
A video of a 2012 lecture at Zaytuna College shows him teaching that the “Islamophobic production industry” is a product of the malicious “military-industrial complex” seeking to profit off victimizing Muslims at home and abroad.
In November 2017, Bazian was caught retweeting blatantly anti-Semitic photos mocking Jews as entitled people who “kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians. Another photo placed a yarmulke on top of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un’s head with a caption of “NOW MY NUKES ARE LEGAL.”
Esposito served as a defense expert in the Hamas-financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and continues to consider Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Sami Al-Arian a close friend.
The Holy Land Foundation was found guilty of funding terrorist groups in the largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history. Along with the seven named defendants, the U.S. government released a list of approximately 300 “unindicted co-conspirators” including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
At a 2007 fundraising event for CAIR, Exposito stated, “[I am here] to show solidarity not only with the Holy Land Fund [sic, Holy Land Foundation], but also with CAIR.” This was stated during the Holy Land Foundation trial that connected HLF with Hamas.
In an interview on National Public Radio in 1994, Esposito described Hamas as “a community-focused group that engages in “honey, cheese-making, and home-based clothing manufacture.”
Zahra Billoo is the executive director of the Northern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Recently, the interfaith organization People Acting in Community Together (PACT) rescinded an award honoring her.
In a series of tweets, Billoo blamed the loss of the award on her “vocal support of Palestinian human rights” and claimed there was pressure to rescind the award from Jewish members of the organization who opposed her criticism of Israel.
In the past, Billoo praised the terrorist group Hezbollah, tweeting “AH [All Hail] for Hezbollah having the courage to do what the Arab governments won’t” and likened the anti-Semitic terrorist group Hamas to a victim of rape implying her support of Hamas rockets being fired into the civilian population of Israel.
She questioned whether fallen U.S. soldiers should be honored on Memorial Day, sparking outrage from other Muslims. She attributed criticism of her comment to sexism, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. She doubled-down and characterized U.S. soldiers as war criminals committing genocide.
She also equated Israel with ISIS.
Recently, a tweet of hers from 2009 received a lot of attention. In the tweet, she casually mentions that she is listening to the sermon of the noted anti-Semitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan while at the gym. Farrakhan regularly calls Jews “Satanic” and claims they “control everything and mostly everybody.”
Activist and Woman’s March organizer Linda Sarsour has a very sordid history with regards to anti-Semitism.
Sarsour associates with the organization Al-Awda and its co-founder (an open and unapologetic Hezbollah supporter) Abbas Hamideh. Sarsour and Hamideh playfully joked around with each other about the Jewish connections to Israel. She attended numerous rallies sponsored by Al-Awda; promoted and solicited donations for their events; spoke at their rallies. She has distanced herself a bit from Al-Awda, though she has never denounced the organization.
Sarsour also called for people to show solidarity with Muhammad Allan, a member of the terrorist group, Islamic Jihad. Allan has a history of recruiting suicide bombers. She supports the discriminatory and terror-tied BDS Movement and claimed “nothing is creepier” than Zionism.
Sarsour said despite what the “Jewish Media” might tell you, Farrakhan is not an existential threat to Jews. Days after Sarsour sat on an Anti-Semitism panel to downplay Louis Farrakhan’s Jew hatred, she went to help raise money for an organization with ties to Hamas.
Suhaib Webb is the former imam of the Islamic Society of Boston, a mosque with extensive extremist ties and a history of radical preaching.
In 2001, according to FBI surveillance documents, Webb appeared alongside al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki to raise $100,000 for Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, who was convicted of shooting two U.S. police officers and killing one of them. His preaching is rabidly anti-American and endorses violence.
Azhar Azeez is the President of ISNA and the Senior National Director of Islamic Relief USA, a group with extensive ties to Islamist extremists and terrorist entities that Clarion Project and others have exposed. The Middle East Forum recently published a large dossier documenting these links.
The Israeli government has long accused Islamic Relief of having ties to Hamas and other terrorists. The United Arab Emirates—a Muslim country—banned Islamic Relief as a terrorist entity in 2014.
The charity has strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and massive fundraising capabilities. The charity awards grants to other organizations, such as a jihadist organization in Turkey. The leadership is particularly close to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Siddiqi is the chairman of ISNA’s Fiqh Council of North America, the body that issues the authoritative religious rulings for the group.
He is also on the executive board of the International Assembly of the Council of Ulama’ in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the Supreme Council of Mosques in Mecca. In other words, he’s part of the Saudi Wahhabist establishment.
Given that background, it is unsurprising that he preached that Muslims should implement sharia in the U.S. using the Brotherhood doctrine of “gradualism.” He taught that participation in the democratic process was a means to this end.
Shakir equated school shootings with the actions of the U.S. and Israeli militaries. He also preached that Muslims must work towards establishing a caliphate so it can wage jihad against the enemies of Islam.
Last year, he preached that the U.S. Constitution is inferior to sharia because it grants equality to Muslims and non-Muslims. His writings depict the U.S. military in the worst of ways and The New York Times reported in 2006 that “he said he still hoped that one day the United States will be ruled by Islamic law.”
He taught that Hezbollah’s bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon does not qualify as an act of terrorism and legitimized the violence. While promoting anti-Americanism among his fans and vilifying the U.S. military, Shakir told Muslims not to “vilify” the extremely radical Hizb ut-Tahrir group.
Yasir Qadhi is a Salafist preacher from the Al-Maghrib Institute. He says “Allah destroys this [American] version of capitalism” and the U.S. economic system enslaves millions. He also preaches against man-made law and in favor of sharia law.
He is on the faculty of Islamic Online University, a radical institution founded by the influential extremist Bilal Phillips. Qadhi contributes educational material that the students use to learn about their faith.
The school’s education is hostile to progressive Muslim reformers and teaches an Islamist supremacist version of the religion. Clarion Project is aware of this directly because the director of the Clarion Intelligence Network, Ryan Mauro, enrolled in the school and earned a certificate in Islamic Studies from the organization.